Since 1995, Argentine cinema has been going through a period of steady growth in importance and quality, which consolidated the reputation of Argentine productions among specialized cinematographic circles around the world. This group of films has been labeled "The New Argentine Cinema". Some of the most famous directors, who are very different in style, content, affiliations, affinities, are Adrian Caetano, Lucrecia Martel, Lisandro Alonso and Pablo Trapero. Three excellent books about Contemporary Argentine Cinema are New Argentine Film: Other Worlds, by Gonzalo Aguilar; Crisis and Capitalism in Contemporary Argentine Cinema , by Joanna Page; and Desintegración y Justicia en el Cine Argentino Contemporáneo, by Gabriela Copertari.
The best director of the bunch is, probably, Lucrecia Martel (some would argue Lisandro Alonso, but it's a question of taste). However, my favorite one is Adrian Caetano (again, a question of taste). His style comes closer to a notion of "popular" cinema that is not populism nor Hollywood entertainment. He is also the director who has the best grasp of Hollywood genres, which he uses in innovative ways in Argentine cinema, who at times could be very derivative and immitative of other national cinematographies. Cronica de una Fuga, for example, is the true story of the only group of prisoners from Argentina's concentration camps during the last dictatorship that managed to escape. The first part of the movie is pretty "traditional", it depicts with competence the kidnapping and torture that the prisoners suffer in the hands of the Army officers. The second part, however, is radically different from what you would expects. It narrates the prisoners plotting to escape using the conventions of "escape from jail" b-type Hollywood movies. Nobody in Argentina had dared to do something like that with a topic deemed so "serious", but Caetano does it brillantly. My favorite movie by him is Un Oso Rojo, an urban western with equal parts of genre experimentation and social criticism.
Yesterday, I bought and saw on DVD his last movie, Francia. It wasn't as well received as his previous movies, but it more than fulfilled my expectations. A family drama, it narrates the story of the descomposition of a lower-middle class family from the point of view of their young daughter. What is interesting about the movie is that it is not situated during menemismo, but after it, so as to show how the neoliberal decade continues to affect the country years after it supposedly ended. It has wonderful jabs to so-called progressives with well-paid jobs at NGOs saving indigenous tribes in the countryside, and, above all, is a great story of implosion of the horizon of expectations that this sector of society has had in the nation. The ending is a little dissapointing, but it doesn't overshadow an excellent movie at all.
Caetano will probably dissapoint me very soon, since he is directing a documentary on Nestor Kirchner financed by the State and supported by the Kirchner family. It's probably going to be annoyingly officialist. Too bad, because he would have been the best choice to direct an independent documentary on such a contradictory and complex figure as Nestor Kirchner.